University of Washington Alumni Association
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Columns Votes - December 2006
Comments on Finances and the Student Experience
All of my undergraduate and law school tuition, room and board, and entertainment expenses came from summer jobs, scholarships and outside grants, student loans and work during the school year—both jobs I held and my spouse’s jobs. Then when I started practicing law, we used my income to pay for my wife’s return to school to complete her M.B.A. I think we both really appreciate and are proud of our achievements and the fact that we earned our “keep” and schooling. Of course, I assume I could have happily done it with either a huge inheritance or a lucky lottery ticket, but that wasn’t in the cards...
I went back to school as an adult and got much better grades and participated in many more activities because I was much more secure financially.
Since I worked my way through college, I didn’t graduate until I was 27 years old! When I transferred to UW from SCC, I was older than my peers and I brought a perspective and work ethic than many younger students lacked. My work was semi-professional at a biotech company and it gave me confidence that after graduation I could succeed in my professional goals. I also learned a lot about balancing the competing demands of work, school and relationships; that has benefited me now that I balance work with my family and sports activities. These are the positives of working through college. The down side was that I was often very tired and I was frequently sick. For my daughter, my husband and I started a college fund so that she can have a more relaxed and focused college experience.
The “financial aid” I received was in the form of several merit scholarships so there was nothing to repay after graduation. My grandmother died while I was in college and I used the small legacy she left me to help me through my last year. I worked only a small amount during college. I mostly worked before attending, so I could attend with minimal time working and really focus on studying.
For aid, 25% provided by family 15% from financial aid. Balance from after-school and summer work. There is value to the experience of working. Having said that, my collegiate baseball career would have been longer had I not had to work to stay in school. Some of my wealthier classmates had a lot more playtime in college than I.
I was a first-generation college student with no idea of how I could have applied for financial aid. I struggled along for years working, attending school part-time, taking time off from school and finally returning and finishing—18 years after high school. It wasn’t until I made it to the UW that I finally discovered my “passion” and by then, I was close to the “practical” degree that I just slogged through. By then it was a piece of paper, not an “education.”
My parents paid for my room and board while I paid for all of my tuition myself since tuition was cheaper. I did have a few scholarships my freshman year, but after that I was on my own. Thank goodness tuition is cheap compared to other colleges! It was tough working part-time and going to college full-time. My studies didn’t get as much attention as they should have. My junior year I made enough money over the summer to pay for the entire year’s tuition, and since I didn’t work while I was in school that year, I got the best grades I’d ever had! I made the dean’s list all three quarters. Working and balancing life and school at the same time taught me a lot, and it was great coming out of undergrad with no loans, but school should be the number one priority and should be focused on 100%. Looking back, I wish I could have given it my full attention.
My last year I carried 56 quarter hours while working 20 hours per week driving truck and received my best grades ever.
My on-campus job added to my “well-rounded” education. My entire adult working career has resulted from referrals that started with my UW job. I also believe I really took my classes a lot more seriously when I began footing the bill. (Sad to say—sorry mom!)
My husband always says his college years were great fun. For me, as a young single mother, they were the hardest years of my life. I went to BCC for two years, going full-time while working full-time and still qualifying for financial aid. Then I came to work at UW, and took advantage of the tuition exemption program. Took forever to graduate but I got my B.S. in computer science in 1992.
I was lucky and found jobs on campus that worked with my class schedule. I was also an RA which covered room and board. My grades, however, would have been better if I had not worked 30-35 hrs per week while attending school full-time (at least 15 credits each quarter). Either way it worked out fine—but I probably would have tried to take out more loans so that I could have studied abroad.
I suppose it was a lot easier paying for school during my time (2001-2005). When I graduated from high school, there were lots of scholarships to be had. In addition, being a computer engineering major helped a LOT because of the large number of high-paying computer science/engineering internships available. If I had been in a major outside of engineering, I would have had a difficult time finding student jobs/internships related to my field.